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Raccoon dog does runner.

Byline: Craig Thompson Reporter craig.thompson01@ncjmedia.co.uk

ARACCOON dog has escaped from its owners garden and is on the run.

Brief glimpses of the animals in the grounds of Wallsend Hall led to speculation it could have been the first sighting of a raccoon roaming free.

But it turned out the mystery animal is in fact Ronnie the raccoon dog who escaped from owner David McDonald's home in the early hours of Tuesday. David bought the animal more than a year ago and it has been living in the back garden of his Wallsend home along with fellow raccoon dog Reggie.

But after jumping over the fence, Ronnie went AWOL, prompting a flurry of sightings from bemused passers-by who saw her.

Tom Hughes, 22, was running through the grounds of Wallsend Hall when something caught his eye.

He said: "I was running along and came across this curious creature.

"At first, I thought it was a badger, but its unusual facial markings made me think it was a raccoon.

"It was big and stocky, but very placid and didn't seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere."

David, who is becoming increasingly worried for Ronnie, said she has a good nature and will "come up and have a sniff" of someone if they have food.

The 25-year-old added: "I suppose she's about the size of a Westie dog, but her nature is more like a cat's.

"Reggie has been missing her like mad and has done nothing but sit by the gate waiting for her to come home."

Raccoon dogs have become increasingly popular as pets in this country in recent years.

David added: "She used to play inside the house, but I have a baby now, so she stayed outside, running around the garden with Reggie..

"She has never been out by herself and I'm starting to get really worried about her."

Steve Lowe, head of conservation at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust based in Gosforth, Newcastle, said raccoon dogs are non-native animals which are sometimes kept as pets.

CAPTION(S):

Broken-hearted raccoon dog Reggie is missing his friend Ronnie

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 27, 2014
Words:353
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